Archive

Archive for July, 2011

Extending the wireless range of a WRT54GL with Solwise powerline adapters and another WRT54GL

July 24th, 2011 No comments

I just fixed a quite common problem what most of us have at home – the wireless signal is not that great in other places in the house. I wanted to do two things initially:

  1. Using Solwise powerline adapters, I dont want to drill in walls to install long ethernet cables. (a friend of mine pointed me in that direction)
  2.  Use a second Linksys/now Cisco WRT54GL, as I definitely want to run OpenWRT on it.

Item 1 doesnt need further explanation I suppose. In regards to item 2, I just love OpenWRT, it is slick, fast, easy to configure, very minimalistic, shortly: it does its job perfectly fine.

Solwise powerline adapters

I had a bit mixed feelings whether these work fine, that I get decent througput without errors and such. Now they are here, installed and work perfectly fine…

  1. They come preconfigured with a common Private Network Name. I didnt really like that, so I randomized that, what was really easy todo: press “Connect” for 10s on one unit, then “Connect” for 2s on the other unit.
  2. The connection rate was initially only “good” over a longer distance, when I had the in the same room the connection rate was “best”, as it shared the same electrical circuit. After some time (hours) the connection rate is now “best” even on a longer distance, which is very good.
  3. They introduce a latency of 3 to 4 ms…

Using a second WRT54GL to extend wireless

So initially I went with the most obvious setup, WRT54GL number 2 (W2) is connected via its WAN port to a LAN port on WRT54GL number 1 (W1). This gave me various headaches, a different network behind W2 and as such a separate DNS namespace, so I would have to query both routers to get the IP of a connected client. There are various other hacks to get around this issue, but none of them was good enough.

Then I figured on the second thread of this post that is actually very easy to achieve what I want to have:
  1. Connect W2 and W1 via LAN ports on each side.
  2. Configure the LAN interface of W2 as a normal client in the LAN of W1 – I used a static IP in this case.
  3. No need to configure the WAN interface on W2 – just leave it unconfigured.
  4. Disable DHCP on W2 – /etc/init.d/dnsmasq stop && /etc/init.d/dnsmasq disable
  5. To enable “roaming”, just put the same wireless configuration on W2 as on W1. It is not really roaming, as you need to reconnect the client when you want to connect to the other one. At least it works perfectly when one wireless signal goes away, the client automatically reconnects to the other one (as long automatic reconnection is enabled).
  6. Make sure the firewall is also disabled on W2 /etc/init.d/firewall stop && /etc/init.d/firewall disable
  7. Reboot W2.

After this you have only one network, where one DHCP and DNS is doing its thing.

Tests

I have not really done any speed tests or whether the Solwise powerline adapaters are really doing what they promise. The reason is quite simple: I got 200Mbps Solwise adapters and none of my machines have a Gbit NIC in it, so… *g I mentioned earlier that the Solwise introduce 3 to 4 ms latency between directly connected devices. Thats good enough for me, I am not a Gamer or crave for zero latency.

I actually just tried a speed test, but the problem is that on both ends are WRT54GLs, ie. embedded devices, and the speed I got was just about 4Mbps.

PS: One thing to note, just when I started writing this article I reinstalled W2, ie. plugged everything into the power socket again. The connection rate was shown as “good” the whole time, and just now it has gone to “best”. The speed between the routers has not improved.

PPS: I completely forgot – IPv6 just-works with this setup as well… *g

Categories: New technology Tags: